Anatomy of the battle of Marawi


By Chemrock

In the age of Mocha symbolism, I quote military historian Byron Farwell “….. armies stand as disturbing reminders that democratic processes are not always the best”. When the army is activated to quell an internal strife, it is often a fine line whether it is propping up or dismantling democratic institutions. The final words for the outcome of the imposition of Military Law and the full-scale assault on Marawi by the AFP is yet to be written. Here is my weak attempt at covfefe of an anatomy of the battle of Marawi, a should be, can it, was it scenario. Was the rampage followed by a rummage?

With utmost respect, we should avoid questioning things like why 8 soldiers died in the precision bombing and be quick to judge and condemn. Friendly fire mishaps occur even with the best armed forces in the world. I write more from the point of lessons learned from other similar urban assaults, such as the US retaking of Fallujah in Iraq, or Hue in Vietnam after the Tet offensive.

First and foremost is to determine the main mission — capture or kill, kill or capture, or kill, capture or disperse. Apparently it’s a kill or capture. If the intent of the mission is clear, all other sub-set missions will be understandable.

Prior to the assault, these ought to be done :
– The power supply to the city ought to be cut off immediately. The relevant power stations need to be shut down.
– Traffic Control Points need to be set up around Marawi to prevent insurgents from leaving or reinforcements entering. These are serious control points, not the flimsy check points we see on TV news feed. These are solid concrete slab Jersey barriers, heavily manned.
– Civilian evacuation needs to be managed and enforced.
– Civilians fleeing ought to be processed to prevent insurgents melting into the population and escaping.
– Possible escape routes ought to be sealed off, such as the rivers, the coastal stretch, or the forest.

In the ensuring panic, when a lot of residents were still in town, the police did some fine jobs when they swung into action in some barangays to identify and segregate persons of interests — those who cannot be identified and not from the town.

In urban warfars, snipers have a great multiplier killing impact. We read of Maute’s snipers slowing down AFP advances. We assume AFP too has deployed their snipers.

Does AFP have night googles? Some battles in urban war are better fought at night. Lt-Col Brennan Byrne, a US marine commander, once said “The bad guys only have what God gave them; we have what Raytheon gave us.” Does Philippines have satellite thermal snooping capabilities? Too bad we can’t call in US assistance in this area. This would have allowed AFP boots on the ground to ‘see’ through walls.

Are the soldiers provided with bullet proof vests? Do they use bullet proof shields to clear buildings?

What are the AFP’s reconnaissance capabilities? Are there recon units, unmanned aerial assets, high altitude recon U2 Dragon Lady or AC-130. These recon capabilities provide the intel and situational awareness of the battlefield. The AC-130 is an attack cargo plane that can hover over battlefields for very long hours, and it carries a heavy punch with 25mm and 40 mm guns. It’s unlikely AFP has the aerial recon assets, and we can’t loan from the US Army because they have been booted out.

It is likely insurgents’ tactics will be modeled on middle east Islamists’. There will be hostage taking and use of civilian shields, mosques holding weaponries, some tunnels, house to house links, and booby traps in empty buildings, some beheadings, hooded guys in blacks holding RPGs. There will be some Marawi residents who refuse to evacuate to protect their property. There will be civilians who are Muate sympathisers. The insurgents will fire indiscriminately, easily blaming collateral damages on the army. The AFP has to fight amongst people they cannot trust, yet take great pains to avoid civilian casualties.

The Muate-Abu Sayaf strength is about a battalion strong. That’s a serious size. A door-to-door search and destroy would be a slow, arduous, messy grunt match. For the AFP, it will be squad-leaders’ battles, fought by privates and corporals rushing from street to street, door to door. Does the AFP have any mechanised assets for street patrols to draw enemy fires. Are there armoured personnel carriers, humvees? There were some amoured personnel vehicles deployed, so that’s good. Without these assets, infantrymen has no protection advancing the streets. TV news footage show soldiers brought to fighting zones in open military trucks, bunched up in big groups before moving out. Definitely lacking in the heavy assets to fight an urban war.

Having 5,000 MNLF fighters joining in, additional AFP troops pulled in from other sectors, and possibly some NPA fighters heeding Joma Sison’s call to help out, seems a congestion of men in a small place. Marawi is not a big city, this is not a theatre war. Come to fighting in some parts of the town where houses are of flimsy wooden constructs, cross-fires will be nightmares.

Do not under-estimate the enemy’s intel on the AFP. Tid bits are carried by insurgent sympathisers that live amongst the residents. Connections through family ties, clans, patronage, messages easily, or innocently, passed over social media, all these betray troop movements. Troopers may even have mobiles with location app turned on, giving a running commentary of his movements. The grapevine is in hyper active mode. Which begs the question. Does the AFP have frequency jamming assets to deny mobile communication to the insurgents? Very unlikely. Alternatively, can telecommunication service providers deny service to Marawi locality?

As Marawi is a small town, perhaps an easier plan is simply to besiege the place and cut all supplies into the town. No one can fight on an empty stomach. Encircle-the-castle till hunger make the enemy do desperate acts. Good old fashioned tactic, but guarantees less body count for friendly forces.

Even if the AFP wins the military operation at Marawi, there is a danger a bigger battle may be lost. There is a deep-seated simmering religious tension between the Moro Muslims and Christian settlers. The insurgent deaths and the devastation to the town from airstrikes, will certainly be embers of hate that will be fanned for whatever it’s worth by those that come after the Mautes. A great psy ops is needed long after the last shot is fired in Marawi. Does the authority have such a plan? The ARMM has mentioned they will help to rebuild the town. That’s only the physical, it’s the relationships that will count in the future.

ISIS connection:

There is great concern that the banditry has evolved into drug dealings and has infiltrated local politics. At the same time, there is fear that Islamic radicalism is on the rise. The Maute and Abu Sayaf groups have pledged allegiance to ISIS in the past but the significance have thus far been downplayed by the authorities and the public. For much too long in my opinion. Most people tend to believe these groups are driven by criminality, not ideology. As small factional groupings, adopting the ISIS brand give them fearsome credibility. Perhaps it started off that way, a sort of marketing ploy, to magnify their image in an island with many factional armed groups. But it does seem that Philippines is now on the radar of ISIS, probably due to the fact their middle east territories are shrinking fast and they are searching for offsite contingency bases. There is now the danger of a terrorist diaspora as many foreign ISIS fighters, displaced in the middle east, prefer not to return to home country where they face arrest or close scrutiny by security agencies. Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, a so-called expert on Al-Queda and ISIS, has repeatedly warned of ISIS encroachment into Indonesia and Philippines,. Such warnings have never been taken seriously for years, unfortunately. However, it should be noted that Rohan, a Sri Lankan national, has been wrong quite a few times before. He lost a libel case in Canada not too long ago for claiming a Sri Lanka social organisation as an agent for the LTTE, the Tamil Tigers.

If the president sees the danger of Maute-Abu Sayaf from the rising ISIS threat, a serious single-minded push to eliminate them is a wise move, better late than never. In Philippines, it’s always difficult to determine the actual motives. The Maute group is a family enterprise with some members holding mayoral and other positions. It’s a portent mix of drugs-radicalism-politics. The burning question is, since the members are identified long ago, how did they elude arrest for such a long time?

Martial Law:

Any talk of Marawi invariably brings into comparison the experiences of Arroyo’s Maguinadao and Pnoy’s Zamboanga. Both sought to end an immediate armed conflict. Arroyo worked with the imposition of Martial Law within a restricted area. Pnoy struggled with the idea of Martial Law but decided the ongoing peaceful negotiations for the Bangsamoro Basic Law was the bigger picture which should not be jeopardised. Duterte imposed martial law on the whole island of Mindanao for a conflict in a small town. Speculation is rife as to the president’s motive, but relying on his public expressions in as far as Marawi is concerned, his objective is to destroy Maute-Abu Sayaf criminal elements completely.

Even if the imposition of martial law was out of honourable intent, the process of Congressional review has to be complied. The Constitution mandates Congress to convene a meeting to approve it. That means it’s mandatory, not according to what Congress Chair Alvarez or the Senate head Pimentel say. The Constitution article 18 quotes :

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.

Do we need to school law makers on the legal implications of “shall”?. In the courts, “will” is construed as a personal volition – He will do it means he wants to do it. On the other hand, “shall” is an obligation. Just imagine we have the Legislature full of lawmakers who don’t understand basic law. As it stands today, Congress has failed to uphold the Constitution. We should be asking, what are the penalties? After all. they stood up to boldly articulate for sending 9 year old lawbreakers to prison. What should be done to lawmakers who break our most important piece of legislation, the Constitution?

The House of the Senate is filled with members as slithery as Nagini, the snake in Harry Potter’s movies. No less than 8 of the currently sitting senators voted vehemently with lawyerly articulations against Arroyo’s martial law on a small locality in 2009. They put themselves out as champions of democracy. Yet for the martial law on the whole island of Mindanao, they now fully support the move without any House discussions. Democracy to them is just an empty sounding word of convenience. Unprincipled people are never consistent in their hearts and their minds,  their feet stand on shifting sand. They are guided only by the fruits on the altar of self-interest. True, principles should change given new new knowledge, but the two conflicts on the land are basically similar in nature.

Mission Command:

The incident in Mamasapano in 2015 resulted in 44 para-military policemen massacared. Mamasapano was a carefully thought out mission, the preparation was based on intel and pre-surveillance and done in deep secrecy. The execution was, unfortunately, disastrous. The highest level of the command chain, ex President Pnoy, was held personally responsible in a Senate inquiry because he OK’ed the mission. Senator Poe and other senators were scoring politics over military field operations. If the senators concept of command responsibility is taken to it’s illogical conclusion, every small failure of government service delivery, your phone not working, street lights down, etc can be pinned on the president.

The Germans clearly defined the doctrine of mission command or “Auftragstaktik”. Mission command basically says the high command defines their intention for a mission, the mission commander does the planning, the field commander executes the mission and he is allowed to deviate from the plan, but not the intent,  during the mission – that’s his call. The rationale is that no high command miles away can understand the ground better than the field commander. Doctrine of mission command allows for quick execution of mission. This doctrine is adopted by both German and Isreali armies. It’s success can be seen in their efficiencies. German army in WWII ended up with disasters whenever Hitler personally oversee an operation.

General Napenas was the Mamasapano mission commander on the field, responsible for success or failure of the mission. But he cannot be shot or thrown in jail if he made any bad decisions, certainly his promotion can be in jeopardy, or perhaps his career is over. Personal liability arises only when there was direlection of duty. The court decision to absolve Pnoy and put the blame squarely on Napenas was correct.

I cringed at the Senate inquiry listening to a bunch of lawmakers who do not understand the incontestability of a field commander’s action. Field military commanders, officers and men make split-second life and death executive decisions, mostly under extreme pressures and personal physical discomfort. The average chief executives making multi-billion dollar deals would freeze if called upon to make decisions these soldiers make in the field. Senators have’nt got the faintest idea of the difference between the crack of rifle fire or the whistle and swish of bullets. (One means it’s outgoing and some distance away, the other means it’s incoming and near.) Yet sitting in aircon armchair comfort, they tried to second guess military moves with great knowledge of hindsight. By their same reckoning, will they now hold Duterte to account for the 8 soldiers killed by the precision bombing of the air force?


By a meandering way, I tried to show the AFP weaponry is still at abysmal levels. Billions of pesos are allocated to secret intel funds in the President’s office while soldiers’ lives are put at risk with inadequate assets.

Wars are for generals. Laws are for the Legislative. We do not question moves by the generals, unless human rights or betrayal issues creep up. We should uphold and cherish the laws of the land, and call out senators and congressmen who fail to uphold the very law they help craft.

The army has said they can retake Marawi. Military confidence has often been undermined by political machinations and interferrences almost everywhere in the world throughout history. Let’s hope the job is left to the AFP to do their best. Unfortunately, we have seen the president’s hand in the removal of a general in the midst of ongoing battles, and he has asked the MNLF and the NPA to join in the battle. What is the battle plan? Who is the supreme commander on the field?

155 Responses to “Anatomy of the battle of Marawi”
  1. Zen says:

    Timeline of events is most important but now with so much news going about, the people doesn’t even know how the attack first started and if the consequent events even matter. No, Duterte’s pronouncement 6 months ago that the AFP and PNA would be ready if the Mautes attack is seriously questionable as to its intent and purpose.

  2. Harry Tan says:

    Wow! Very lucid and objective as always, sir Chemrock. I am schooled on the different main missions, ‘the doctrine of mission command,’ etc.

    Got a few laughs from Lt-Col Brennan Byrne quote, “The bad guys only have what God gave them; we have what Raytheon gave us.”

    I pray that our legislators would open their eyes to the urgency of bringing Phl military budget to 2 or 3% of GDP so that our troops would be properly equipped with the right gears and equipment. God help Marawi! And God bless Pilipinas!

    • chemrock says:

      Thanks Harry,

      Military equipment upgrade is indeed crucial. One may be excused to say it’s higher priority than infras. Wonder if the president realises that the fighter jets he unleashed on Marawi were acquired by Pnoy, an acquisition that he, Duts, was critical of in 2016 as a waste of money.

  3. Bill In Oz says:

    Here is a journalists report on the battle for Marawi from the BBC.

    It seems fairly detailed and accurate.

    • Bill In Oz says:

      And I read on the Enquirer’s website this morning, that this attack by Maute ISIS group was planned well before hand for the start of Ramadan. The attempt by PNP to capture Hapilon merely coincided with the planned ISIS fostered attack on Marawi.

      Thus the President’s declaration of martial law seems an appropriate response

  4. In reading this, it occurred to me that, if the PH actually wanted ISIS out of the nation, it would declare Marawi a foreign invasion, invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with the US, and get some dramatic help. Ask the US to put together a small all-Muslim unit, if we really want to get outside the box. Dump Musuari for the terrorist he is. Gag the news. Go for results.

    But that’s just me . . .

    • Bill In Oz says:

      Joe I amsure that there are many officers etc. who trained with US servicemen or even in the USA who would entirely agree…But there is a political dimension to Duterte’s decisions…
      And for the moment he’s the elected boss.

    • NHerrera says:

      I believe I have come to a good entry point to the serious discussion of the blog (in contrast to my covfefe posts below).

      Due to complacency or lack of serious attention to the needs of Mindanao, extending from the earliest days after WWI to the present time — exacerbated by the land-grabbing and resource-exploiting carpet baggers of Luzon and Visayas and their foreign partners as well as those in Mindanao itself — the socio-economic-political-ideological needs of Mindanao has not been attended to, which resulted in the big problem we now have.

      But whatever is the reason for the “cancer” that infects this second biggest PH island — with a lot of potential — it needs a surgical operation before it gets worse.

      I have in mind a simplistic view:

      – Time which runs horizontally; and
      – A two-component item vertically which runs along the time dimension, composed of these two components

      * A = socio-economic-political-ideological component
      * B = military or armed component

      Now I connect this to both Joe and Bill’s comments above. Because of the need to arrest the cancer, we have the A,B dimension changing in complexion as we go horizontally time-wise.

      Say, we use Joe’s concept, if we were to redo the start of the surgery, efficiently.

      At the start, the logistics and serious efforts may go say A 40% B 60% — that is, more on the military because of the cancerous situation needed to be arrested. But we have to have a good portion of A so the populace recognizes that the military effort is not directed at them but those SOBs, some of whom are foreign SOBs. But as relative successes come the A component, which should be sustained, grows relative to B, so that at the end after a successful campaign we have A 90% and B 10%. And thereafter there should not be any let-up in the A component, until Mindanao is at parity with Luzon and Visayas. This last paragraph contains the thoughts of Bill.

      • Makes good sense to me. And it seems the local population is not ‘with’ the rebels, considering the efforts to shelter Christians there. So there is a base of good will to start from.

      • edgar lores says:

        The two components are external curative measures. Effective as they may be, they do not address the reason for the “cancer.”

        Chemrock has suggested the silence and apathy of the “communal lifestyle” of the Muslim masses.

        I recall Andrew’s term of “amoral familism” in which the Filipino puts his family above community. Perhaps for our Muslim brothers, the term should be expanded to “amoral clanism.”

        The consequences of amoral familism are evident in the wholesale corruption in government, the persistence of political dynasties, and generally in the Filipino non-observance of law.

        The consequences of amoral clanism are more far-reaching. Yes, there is corruption. Yes, there are political dynasties. But the non-observance of law for radical Mindanoan outlaws — unlike, say, the typical outlaw from Luzon or Visayas — extends to the ready use of unfettered violence. Beheadings. Warlords. Militias. Ampatuan. Mamasapano. Zamboanga siege. Marawi crisis.

        Never mind cell phones. Having a rifle is more important.

        Violence is almost used casually as a tool for survival. And this is in the history and in the blood.

        • NHerrera says:


          I agree that an expansive-inclusive program of addressing the cancerous problem in Mindanao is needed. Please note, though, that I defined A to contain four items,

          A = socio-economic-political-ideological items

          which are “external” at the start of the program — I admit — but if these externals are genuine, serious efforts, the associated dialogue that ensues with the internal group may help a lot; which means that in the end, it is the internal that matters rather than the external, as in the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.”

          If I may add: this situation is illustrated, for example, by our dialogue in this specific item — typical of what happens in TSH. I have a view; you have a view; and honest, thinking people that we are, I, representing the internal group, being sought to be persuaded by you, the external, recognize the virtue of your comment which I take internally and thus becomes effective, not if imposed from the outside. Thanks for the note. 🙂

        • sonny says:

          As part of the discerning readership, I would like to affirm, as laid by NH & edgar & Chempo, the what’s (socio-political-economic-ideological, amoral familism, amoral clanism, apathy & silence of the communal subjects of Marawi) and the who’s (foreign participants, local, indigenous Muslim co-citizens, and political influences, and the official agents of PH body-politic, gov’t troops & PRRD).

          My special interest consists of the common sociology with the PH and the on-going debate as to the origins and dynamics of the terrorism of IS, viz the Qur’an correlated to the current hotspots in the rest of the Muslim (Umma) and non-Muslim world.

    • Not Needed says:

      Hi Joe. How you going? It is not about yesterday that the context of providing peace for tomorrow should enunciate , but HOW do we get peace for tomorrow. Duterte seems to be a complete bloody minded ,, but cunning , out of his depth sort of person. What DOES he really want? My observations may be dumb, but I see it as him trying to set up a family dynasty and the murder of UNcharged, and therefore potential innocent people called drug cartel members to be a smoke screen to eliminate his competitors. After all his soon is the mayor of Davao City now…how does that happen? I recall a cable from the US ambassador in the Philippines, when Roddy was the mayor that simply said that Roddy had hit squads. THis cable doe exist and was revealled by Juilian Assange . And NOW Rodddy is doing WHAT?? in Mindinao? What is he doing? I am NOT sure, but he seems very unwilling to allow the Americans OR the Australians to go in and assist him to WIN this dirty war. It is obvious the Philippine army has neither the ability or the resources to win this , but Roddy wants to keep the Americans AND Australians out of this……….WHY????????????

  5. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    Thank you chemps for another well thought out and superbly analyzed anatomy of this current battle in Marawi. Hats off, and salute to you…!

    I tried to share this article on the wall of the Philippine Defense Forces Forum, currently being reviewed. We need sophisticated and high tech support so we can avoid further loss of lives in the AFP. You are spot on in pointing out that billions had been allotted to preferred departments while our soldiers, are dying for lack of adequate support.

    I echo these questions of yours:

    Does AFP have night googles? Some battles in urban war are better fought at night.

    ”Does Philippines have satellite thermal snooping capabilities? Too bad we can’t call in US assistance in this area. This would have allowed AFP boots on the ground to ‘see’ through walls.

    Are the soldiers provided with bullet proof vests? Do they use bullet proof shields to clear buildings?

    What are the AFP’s reconnaissance capabilities? Are there recon units, unmanned aerial assets, high altitude recon U2 Dragon Lady or AC-130. These recon capabilities provide the intel and situational awareness of the battlefield. The AC-130 is an attack cargo plane that can hover over battlefields for very long hours, and it carries a heavy punch with 25mm and 40 mm guns. It’s unlikely AFP has the aerial recon assets, and we can’t loan from the US Army because they have been booted out.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Hi Mary!
      Remember after Mamasapano we questioned why the inventory of the AFP can be found in wikipedia? It cuts both ways, the enemy will know the strength and weakness of the military, making it easier for them what to expect. Anyways most equipment purchase is on the news , and I can trace a purchase of a batch niightvision goggles from a 2011 news report.

      Regarding drones, yes we have drones.

      I already voiced my opinion on AFP modernization, and it is not different from what we all want, I also witnessed a little on how difficult it is to have them.(modernized)

      About this war, A news blackout is advisable, but we all know news blackouts happen when there are scandals and we always ask what they are hiding.

      • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

        Hello Karl

        Yep, drones, night goggles, intel support (all provided by the US of A as assistance in the global war against terrorism) were also mentioned in the various Mamasapano articles and the discussions which ensued.

        US aid in the form of AFP modernization was mentioned in yesterday’s news. I hope these weapons and gadgets don’t find their way to enemies’ hands via corrupt groups, hope too that these are guarded adequately against attacks @ armories for the same reason.

        I read about how members comprising the pintakasi groups which surrounded the Mamasapano heroes have exclaimed in wonder over the modern guns and gadgets they confiscated from their victims. The mission commanders in the field need to be calibrate their execution of their operations to avoid repetition of that tragedy – unnecessary loss of lives and property.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Btw, do you recall when Steve admonished us for our sudden “expertise”, hehe.
          When we got the equipment from US recently, I thought PDut would ask them to be all returned.
          We can not deny that we need all the expertise we can get.

          Regarding your other concern,I hope the AFP amory is not as accessible as the RW casino vault.

          • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

            Right…experts in our air conditioned offices. We cannot claim expertise in fields we are not schooled and trained for. Common sense to realize that we are not experts and need help is good, too.

            The Philippines need all the expert assistance we can get in terms of intel, weapons that actually work, and efficiently at that. Add to that, training on how to make use of sophisticated weapons and jets.

    • ikit says:

      with the us army booted out, now would be a justified chance for pdut to seek help from his beloved russia. lemme start the epistle, “to russia with love…” lol

    • chemrock says:

      Thank you Mary. Hope the battle don’t add tensions to exacerbate you medica problems.

      • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

        I’m thinking tensions, stress are part of our life, they are everywhere. Articles like yours and discussions afterwards clarify things, put matters in the right perspective amidst all the propaganda and fake news flying around and help reduce anxieties. We thank you.

  6. edgar lores says:

    Excellent covfefe!

  7. “Unfortunately, we have seen the president’s hand in the removal of a general in the midst of ongoing battles, and he has asked the MNLF and the NPA to join in the battle. What is the battle plan? Who is the supreme commander on the field?”

    These former MNLF (not so much MILF) and NPA folks, especially the ones that share some battle stories during Marcos and the late-80s, work really well together, chemp. I’m not sure if the new generation has the same camaraderie , but these guys (the new ones) would have also enjoyed a good working relationship with AFP/PNP.

    So it makes plenty sense to bring them together, though I agree with Joe above, Misuari’s gots to go. No need to integrate, have something similar to the Gurkhas or French Foreign Legion, or closer to home, American era Philippine Constabulary:

    • oh, and great piece, by the way, chemp! learned a lot.

      • chemrock says:

        Thanks Lance.

      • sonny says:

        My sentiments too, Chempo! This piece by you reminds me of the thinking of Gen George Marshal, one of the great architects of post-WWII Europe, IMO. Truly the quintessential citizen-soldier!

        @ LC
        The Marawi situation is a deja vu unmistakably of the double-front sent by the US colonial gov’t in 1899 after the Treaty of Paris handed the Philippines from Spain to America. Two US armed forces were dispatched to the islands, one to Mindanao and the other to Luzon, master stroke in my opinion.

        • Yes, sonny. The US did treat Mindanao as a separate annexation, hence why American pioneers of the Manifest Destiny -type were actually responsible for colonizing Davao, only to forsake it when the US switched it’s stance and included Mindanao as part of the whole Philippines, ie. Filipinization of Mindanao (under Manila).

          Dole and Del Monte stayed and a bunch of rubber, hemp, plantations, but Davao ceased to be an American city, specifically because Mindanao was Filipinized (the about face of your “double-front” policy, which happened around the 1920s), also because the hemp trade was eventually monopolized by Bicol (as per Ireneo), but they left once these American pioneers figured Davao (and the rest of southern Mindanao) wasn’t the Oregon territory after all, which I’m sure was impressed to them in the beginning… similarly,

          the Moros never saw themselves as subservient to Manila Filipinos as well. That i’m sure is still the major under-current here, the newer lesser one being this Salafi brand of Islam infecting the world, hence we circle back to what I wrote more than a year ago now,

          The Philippines is in the center of all this, not so much because there will be a risk of nation failure (all this takfiri, Salafi stuff I’m sure will be resolved soon, and it’ll again be an irredentist struggle), but it’s ability to repel Salafism is what makes what’s going on there important, Filipino Islam vs. Saudi Wahhabism… I hope people in the fight now, don’t miss this point.

          • sonny says:

            If I may add, the Indonesia-Malaysia-Sabah-Sulu line/axis of SEAsia is much too attractive for Wahabbi & IS radicalism to ignore. Hence I suspect the ‘helping hand’ of US anti-terrorism. Shades of Cold War LIC (low-intensity-conflicts)?

            Saudi Arabia is Wahabbiland. The Saudis are also the richest Muslims. IS was denied the moneys they seek. One can do the math, money and religious fundamentalism.

    • karlgarcia says:

      “These former MNLF (not so much MILF) and NPA folks, especially the ones that share some battle stories during Marcos and the late-80s, work really well together, chemp.”

      Lance, as far as this Stanford Link(Mapping Militants), the MNLF rejected NPA’s offer of alliance.
      “The MNLF manifesto’s openness to non-Muslims and its emphasis on resistance to what it termed the Philippine government’s colonial oppression led to overtures from the New People’s Army (NPA), a Filipino Communist militant group. However, in 1975, the MNLF allegedly rejected the NPA’s offer of alliance, cognizant of ideological differences and the importance of keeping its international Islamic supporters.”

      • karl, maybe at the strategic level, on paper… but , the NPA and MNLF did definitely work together (maybe you can ask your dad about this), in that link you shared, you’ll notice Libya— well, both the NPA and MNLF got the bulk of their armament from Libya.

        Eventually, turfs were carved, the NPA working mainly in the Visayan/Christian Mindanao (North and East); while MNLF took Muslim/West Mindanao (then MILF sprouted, taking South), hence the newer generation NPA and MNLF would have more working relationship with AFP/NPA.

        But the ones living in Basilan in mid-2000s, under the auspices of the Philippine gov’t were both MNLF/NPA vets, ie. living in compounds together, granted not all shared battle stories, but the ones who did share stories were working in Northern Mindanao area, basically where Marawi is… the military model is of small units.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Thanks Lance!

          • I’m not sure what that gov’t program was, that took MNLF/NPA vets (surrenders?) and repatriated them with some vocational training and working with the Philippine gov’t, in compounds (maybe your dad will know), but they were in Basilan and surrounding areas of Zamboanga.

            • karlgarcia says:

              The GRP-MNLF peace agreement required TESDA to provide training to those not absorbed by the AFP/PNP.

            • karlgarcia says:

              As far as The NPA is concerned there was this balik baril program( return of guns or arms)

              “A rebel returnee will benefit from this reconciliation program by receiving immediate assistance of P20,000 and livelihood assistance of P50, 000.

If the rebel returnee surrenders with firearms, he will also get benefits from the Balik Baril Program. 

Different agencies of the government like the DSWD, DOLE, and TESDA are also involved in the training rebel returnees to develop their skills and make use of the livelihood assistance and become useful members of the society.  

Hayudini further said that year 2009 and middle of 2010, hundreds of communist rebel returnees have undergone skills development training and are successful in their endeavor.”

      • karlgarcia says:

        About this topic, PDuterte again maybe after being advised said that(paraphrased) ” It is not that I mistrust them, It just does not fit the picture.”

        Bottomline, he finally rejected the offer.
        Temporary alliances end up ugly after the alliance ends.

    • karlgarcia says:

      This is a movie called the Real Glory starring Gary Cooper.
      It is also about the early years of the Philippine Constabulary and the setting is in Mindanao.

  8. RHiro says:

    Should the government have destroyed Marawi City in order to save it? As a message to all further enemies?

    Hue became of symbol of NV and VC resistance to American invasion. America won the battle after destroying about 80% of the city.

    It was Iwo Jima all over again.

    Reality switched from the red menace to the war for national liberation by the Vietnamese people.

    The predominantly Muslim area’s in Mindanao have been in a state of lawlessness/insurgency for so many years. Hence a lot of areas provide fertile ground for brigandage in areas where state forces are practically absent.

    Obviously these forces have grown. Piracy, kidnapping and smuggling are lucrative enterprises in these areas.

    Truly a situation similar to the islands in the Caribbean then and parts of Africa today.

    ISIS was born out of the SUNNI insurgency vs the U.S. and the Shia led government in Iraq.

    It grew larger when Syria collapsed into civil war and ISIS took over Raqqa

    When does brigandage and insurgency meet?

    Look around the planet where States are failing, or have failed.

    Nature hates a vacuum..

    How did an individual manage to enter a massive public space with a weapon of war all dressed as a commando?

  9. “The bad guys only have what God gave them; we have what Raytheon gave us.” Does Philippines have satellite thermal snooping capabilities? Too bad we can’t call in US assistance in this area. This would have allowed AFP boots on the ground to ‘see’ through walls.”


    I seriously doubt hi-speed , lo-drag gear, equipment and tech would make much difference here, I’m fairly confident it didn’t for us, how else are we still fighting this war after a decade and a half? Sure we can geo-locate groups and individuals, and see thru walls, even predict thru meta-data what’s gonna happen, but what good is it, if for every guy you kill , 12 others take his place?

    Hence I’m more interested in the ideology, and your Singaporean model of curbing radicalisation. And this invite for MNLF/NPA participation seems to me a good step in that direction also, chemp.

    • chemrock says:

      Lance, you’re talking long term strategies, which I fully agree with you.

      The short term, the NOW, is urban warfare in Marawi.

      • popoy says:

        How yesterday or long ago is the PH Armed Forces in terms of tactics, strategies and capability?

      • re urban warfare, chemp, i guess my point was that fancy gear isn’t as important , and i tend to side with your hint of tandem bike teams out there , sparrows was what the npa called them, ie. as oppose to calling in airstrikes, or indirect fire support… it’s very tough to ween a conventional force from thinking in terms of conventional infantry tactics, when what’s needed is a soft, light touch, ie. Ted Medina’s video below:

        • chemrock says:

          I had some training in this, but that don’t make me as knowledgeable. I’m not going to suggest to the pros how it should be done, they probably know better, with real life experiences.

          I saw once in a video US soldiers using the armour shield in house to house clearing and it seemed a damn good way to do. Of course that would’nt stand up to RPGs or rocket launchers, but against small arms like armalites, it’s pretty good.

          Given time is on the govt’s side, I say just cut off logistics and food supply and sit back and wait.

  10. josephivo says:

    Events have different levels, an event level, a process level, and a beliefs level. What we hear of Marawi is mostly on the event level. But the deeper levels are equally important, because acting on these levels tend to be more effective in the long run.

    On the process level. How was/is the planning by the Maute group done, the recruitment, the procurement, the financing, the communications, the rewarding….?

    On the belief level. What motivates, what creates status, what are the ultimate dreams…?
    Just addressing the events will never solve the problem.

    (Again, a fool can always ask more questions than 1000 wise man can answer. Loved the article Chemp)

    • chemrock says:

      Thanks Joseph

      Like your events, process and beliefs levels. Yes I do agree with you. You go for digging up the underlying problems and issues,Lance go for the strategies to address all those issues.

  11. edgar lores says:

    1. As I understand it:

    1.1. The MNLF is a militia group headed by a rebel warlord responsible for the Zamboanga Siege in September 2013. Its avowed objective is to carve an independent state in Mindanao and nearby islands. [Estimated Strength: ~18,000]

    1.2 The NPA is a communist militia group responsible for the destruction of infrastructure, extortion, and the deaths of soldiers and policemen. Its avowed aim is to bring down the government in favor of a communist state. (Estimated Strength: ~5,000]

    2. Why would the government seek, much less accept the support, of these outlaw groups in the Marawi crisis? [Estimated Strength: ~165,000]

    2.1. Would this not confer legitimacy to these groups?

    2.2. And, therefore, strengthen their resolve to dismantle (MNLF) or replace (NPP) the Republic?

    2.3. Should not the government objective be to integrate these groups… less into the armed forces but more into the civilian population?

    2.3.1. Duterte has used the term “integrees” for the 2,000 MNLF fighters who will join the army’s Marawi offensive. But he seems to have backtracked on immediate acceptance of Misuari’s offer after the AFP said there were no “appropriate protocols.”

  12. chemrock says:

    Sorry guys, there are no night googles. It’s visors or gorgles. Apologies.

    The cash hoard and cheques are a big mystery. Wide open for speculation. I’m taking bets some of the cheques are made payable to one Delima.

  13. chemrock says:

    I wish the president would induct those brave men in tandem on motorbikes to Marawi. With their instinct to know the barangays where the enemies of the people will be, even the specific timing, they can do precision raids. Their sharpshooting skills make it a sure kill all the time, bullets in the heads always do the trick. Their motorbikes make for quick retreat after each kill. Their balaclava or skillmasks are auto camos for them, the enemy will mistake them for one of their own.

    This is a good time for the president to hone their skills. See how they perform shooting people who shoot back at them.

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Spot on!

    • Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

      A very excellent suggestion. How about it, Mr. President? Redirect those riding in tandem vigilantes to Marawi, Basilan and to other far flung areas where these terrorists are.

  14. Bill In Oz says:

    Bob Martin in Davao has written a post on his blog about the capture of the father of the Maute brothers, at an army checkpoint on Davao’s outskirts. Here is the start of his post. It has more detail than anything else I have seen published.

    “Well, the news broke late yesterday afternoon, Task Force Davao has made an arrest in the Marawi Terrorism case!

    Yes, that is right, one of the Maute Terrorists has been arrested, and he was arrested in Davao City.
    Honestly, I can’t believe how stupid they were to attempt what they did. The father of the Maute Brothers, Cayamora M. Maute, along with some of his family members were arrested at a checkpoint in Sirawan, Toril, Davao City. Mr. Maute was trying to disguise himself in a van going through the checkpoint, but the soldiers there were suspicious. He was hiding his face, and dressed in a way that made them suspicious, so they checked him further and sure enough, he was one of the terrorists that they were looking for !
    I have passed through that checkpoint in Toril many times in the past. It is not a new checkpoint that was set up recently due to the terrorist activity in Marawi. This checkpoint had been in place for, I believe 12 to 15 years already! Task Force Davao is a group of AFP soldiers who are here to protect Davao, and they have always done a great job in doing that. There are several entry points into Davao City from the rest of Mindanao, and the Task Force has major checkpoints at each entry point into the city. Terrorists find it difficult to enter the city because of this.”

    • Bill In Oz says:

      Further on in the comments he says he heard that the father of Maute brothers
      “was having some kind of heart problem and was coming to Davao City in hope of getting medical help”

    • chemrock says:

      All these while, the Mautes were never in the shadows.The authorities knew them and their family members. Where they never persons of interest in national security agencies minds? If so, was there no surveillance done, no intel at all? The authorities should have known by now here family members do their banking, their movements, who they met where and when etc etc. Was it utter intel failure or intrigue?

      Cayamora M. Maute

  15. caliphman says:

    What is most glaringly obvious is the very critical failure of Philippine, US, and even Russian intelligence resources allied against a common enemy to detect and understand the magnitude of ISIS presence in Marawi and elsewhere in the country. This was no lone wolf or isolated band or bands of Daesh devotees deciding to make an open last stand to seize, declare, and defend caliphate territory against the armed might of the AFP. Clearly if ISIS armed formations are in battalion strength and not just in the dozens as the military initially expected in finishing off the Philippine caliphate commander in Marawi, it requires no Sherlock to deduce that ISIS has a growing pipeline of trained militants and arms caches centered in Marawi and unfortunately in other places. How large and long this traffic has been in place suggests this established conduit is via Indonesia, Malaysia, and other neighboring Muslim neighbors in the south. It’s perhaps a good thing that this cult of religious roaches under a bizarre banner of Islam have prematurely exposed themselves to the light and now face a significant reduction of their numbers. But make no mistake, this is fundamentally a war of intelligence and intelligent strategy. Until this growing funnel of of trained and experienced terrorists and arms between Daesh overseas bases and Mindanao is u Der stood and dealt with successfully, the threat of this ISIS cancer spreading and engulfing the Philippines in its terrorist embraces will not be eliminated.

  16. caliphman says:

    It is perhaps not an Aha moment to guess a southern supply line feeds the ISIS terrorist gangs in Mindanao but this is where the intelligence war must begin and pursued in Mindanao. Daesh is not very popular among the Muslim masses in our and neighboring countries and a more organized effort to cultivate, gather, organize and act timely on vital information goes to the heart winning this war in Marawi and Mindanao.

    • chemrock says:

      Muslim masses certainly do not believe in Daesh. It’s the minority lunatic religious fringe that’s the problem. Religious fervour is toxic, it motivates men and women to blow themselves up for reasons they never even understood. But when uninvolved Muslim masses remain apathetic, they are just as culpable. Muslim lifestyle is very communal, centred around the mosques. Most of the people know what’s going on in this or that family, or at least they have a sense of something going on. But they remain silent, and that’s their sin.

      • caliphman says:

        There is a reason the ISIS foray to Bohol failed. The terrorist squad was like fish out of sea and the local folks tipped off their presence and offered little no support or cover even if one of members was local. Marawi is quite different and aside from being the Muslim center and capital of the country, there must be sectors in the city population which including mosques which conspired in the building of tunnels arms,,ammunition and explosive caches hidden in their homes Housing and hiding 40-50 foreign terrorists means many years of recruiting supporters and amassing resources including the exmayor and 50 million pesos.

        • caliphman says:

          Many Maranao residents who were not in the same clans whose numbers included the ISIS militants and supporters may not have been aware of the gathering presence and strength of the Daesh in the it midst.But those who were may not have been privy to the plan to make Maranao an urban battleground and their homes the scenes of pitched battles.

          • chemrock says:

            Due to the sensitivity of Marawi being an Islamic centre, AFP probably kept away from the area. With no voluntary info coming from residents who see the build up of insurgents, it points to huge intel failure.

      • josephivo says:

        I’m not so sure about the non-support for Daesh. Just a sports analogy. If your team “Peaceful Islam” is not in the finals where the “Violent Muslims” are fighting the “Peaceful Heretics”, whom will you supporter for?

        In Flanders, during WWII, several (many) catholic priest-teachers were convincing their catholic students to joint Hitler’s armies to go and fight the communist atheists, so thousands went, many died and those who returned after surviving their Russian captivity were condemned back in Belgium as collaborators.

        The support might just be passive, not denouncing your eldest rebellious son or something more. Religion is often anchored very deeply, the first motivator in a “we” and “they” selection.

  17. edgar lores says:

    Repost from Open Discussion #7.

    As of today, June 8, 2017, we have the following developments:

    1. Cayamora Maute, the father of the Maute brothers, was arrested at a checkpoint in Davao on June 6. He is accused of providing funding and logistical support for his sons’ activities. He was on his way to seek medical care.

    2. Farhana Maute, the mother and matriarch of the clan, sought to approach and talk with Duterte but he refused. On June 7, Duterte blamed the Maute clan for bringing ISIS foreign fighters to Marawi.

    3. On June 7, ex-mayor Fajad (not Fahad?) Salic was arrested for rebellion in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

    4. There is no immediate end to the Marawi crisis and there is now talk of a protracted war. Lorenzana’s 10-day deadline followed by Duterte’s 3-day deadline have come and gone. The initial estimates of 50-100 rebels have ballooned to as many as 500, including foreign fighters from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

    5. It appears the military intelligence of the government, the US, Indonesia, and Malaysia have been caught flat-footed. The Marawi crisis was not simply defensive, diversionary attacks to save Hapilon but an attempt to dismember the Republic starting with the city of Marawi.

  18. edgar lores says:


    1. From the timeline that I posted above, one can speculate that the ISIS decision to divert to the Southern Philippines happened from December 2016.

    2. Foreign fighters probably started arriving early this year as ISIS efforts to establish a central caliphate in the Middle East was falling apart.

    3. This makes me wonder what factors led to the ISIS decision:

    3.1. Was it the inability of successive administrations to wipe out radical Islam outlaw groups like the MNLF, ASG, and lately the Maute Group?

    3.2. What about the fact that Duterte had become the President? Did ASG and the Maute Group see a weakness in the President’s character? Or did they see a trait of his that they could exploit? Like his empathy for the various Muslim militia bands?

    3.2.1. One must note that the ASG tried to expand operations to Bohol in April 2016 and that the Mautes occupied the Butig Municipal Hall in November 2016. All under Duterte’s watch.

    3.2.2. One will also note the mutual admiration society between Duterte and Misuari.

    3.3. And yet one of Duterte’s primary characteristic is the primacy of his Will. This Will is at times perverted to be that of an outlaw. Duterte, given the chance, does not observe the letter of the law because he believes he is above the law. Does like attract like?

    4. If another presidential candidate had won, would the radical Islam outlaw groups have dared to transform from brigands (to borrow R. Hiro’s term) to insurgents?

    • karlgarcia says:

      From Brigands to insurgents, or vise versa?

      Splinter groups like Pentagon gang was founded by former MNLF commanders. The Mautes recruited former MILF fighters. BIFF is a break away of MILF.

      • karl,

        There is question about the “factual basis” on PRD’s ML declaration in Mindanao. Since it boils down to rebellion and invasion, there seems to be a “definition debacle” because I can’t find the parameters/elements for these words in the 1987 Constitution. I read about a pissing contest between Hontiveros and Sara Duterte about what constitute as an act of rebellion. Could you please point us to any document that may clarify that contention or is it now up to SC to untangle this web of bitter strife?

        • karlgarcia says:

          Yes there are factual errors like the taking over of certain institutions before ML declaration.

          Duterte said he will abide by the SC as of this writing.

          About the definition of rebellion.

          Section 2. Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

          “Article 134. Rebellion or insurrection – How committed. – “he crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.”

          The thing is,it took a while for the DND to say that this is indeed ISIS trying to form a caliphate.
          It is now up to the SC. Unless Duterte changes his mind again and Alvarez tears apart the ruling.

      • edgar lores says:

        and vice-versa.

  19. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    Militants using tunnels, anti-tank weapons, human shields in fight vs. gov’t forces in Marawi
    Published June 7, 2017 4:48pm

    With bomb-proof tunnels, anti-tank weapons hidden in mosques, human shields and a “mastery” of the terrain, Islamist militants holed up Marawi City are proving a far tougher opponent than military chiefs expected.

    Two weeks after gunmen waving black flags of the Islamic State (IS) group rampaged through Marawi, initial assertions from authorities that the conflict would be over in days have given way to warnings of a protracted battle.

    “The advantage of the (enemy) is their mastery of the terrain. They know where even the smallest alleys lead to and they are free to go around,” Major Rowan Rimas, an operations officer for the Marines, told reporters in Marawi this week.

    “They know where the government forces are coming from and where they are taking cover. They have snipers and their positions are well-defended.”

    • karlgarcia says:

      International law prevents the military attack of Mosques and Madrasah. The terrorists are using these as their shield. I know attacking cultural institutions should be last resort, but all means have been exhausted, maybe that would considered as a last resort attack already.
      This would be longer than we hope.

  20. Hah!

    “The government is acting on the spread of fake news in social networking sites that have misled the public, especially in connection with recent incidents of national significance.

    Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tasked to run after the sources of fake news that have been circulating on Facebook and Twitter.

    Aguirre specifically directed the NBI to start with the fake news that circulated in social media following the attack on Resorts World Manila (RWM) last week and the attack in Marawi City by Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group on May 23.”

    Bakit? Dahil ba nakuryente siya ng socmed fake news lately?

    “Trillanes kay Aguirre: ‘Wag kang kumuha ng intel sa Facebook.”

  21. NHerrera says:

    Wow! Chemrock’s usual well-written piece plus comments and factual citations have been very informative and enlightening, from only 63 comments so far. Thanks Chemrock. Thanks TSH.

  22. Bill In Oz says:

    Four years ago there was an attempt to seize part of Sabah by Filipinos. The Malaysian armed forces intervened, attacked and recaptured the seized area. Now 9 Filipinos have been sentenced to death for their part in that armed attack.

    The interesting thing is that all the Filipinos sentenced by the Malaysian High court are Muslims from Mindanao & the Sulu archipelago.

    The incident was not viewed as a terrorist attack at the time and perhaps it should not be now – too long a bow !

    But it does provide background. And the background demonstrates a willingness by Muslims from Sulu and Mindanao to take up arms against national governments, even a Muslim government in neighboring Malaysia.

  23. Will PRD re-evaluate his anti-West stance and put the country and its people over his personal pride in light of the situation in Marawi?

    Heydarian, in the article below, advocates that PRD re-examine the benefits of partnering with PH’s traditional allies instead of alienating them.

    “In the coming months, Mr Duterte could consider resuscitating relations with Washington, which can provide high-grade intelligence and advanced equipment as well as boast decades of proven inter-operability with the Philippine military. The Filipino President might also need to reconsider an earlier threat to reject large-scale aid from the European Union, which has invested heavily in the peace process in Mindanao. Ultimately, domestic political challenges could force Mr Duterte to recalibrate his pursuit of an “independent” foreign policy away from traditional allies in the West.”

    • NHerrera says:

      Viewed as a situation where there is this Mindanao problem with players which may help in solving that problem — PH Government, US, EU, China and Russia — it is indeed useful to rethink this whole business of relationships.

      Pivoting away from US, EU and pivoting to China, Russia to get the Billions of loans from China/ Russia (?) for infra development makes sense if infra development in Mindanao (setting aside the infra dev in Luzon and Visayas) is the only key to the solution to the problem. (Among the Administration thrusts, infra development has become some sort of obsession to usher in PH’s golden age.)

      • There are not a lot of coverage about US aid in terms of military equipment to the Marawi siege. The US seems to have a soft spot for the Filipinos as evidence by the article below:

        I have seen another article about the US extending an helping hand to PH Marawi problem but it is usually buried by controversial local situations. PRD did not mention anything about it in the media nor did he declined the offer from what I can deduce.

        Pinoy pride is well and good but being too wrapped up in it verge on hypocrisy. PH is a poor country and even if it is rich, it is still bad form to look a gift horse in the mouth (except if it is a Trojan Horse).

        • chemrock says:

          There is a reason why Filipinos have higher trust ratings for the US. You just showed us why. Despite being the object of presidential bashings, the US turn up when they are needed.

          Pride is the cause for a fall. The president berated recently about acquiring 2nd hand military hardware from US — he would have none of it. He wants to run before he can walk, and talks as if he is running a first world country. Every nation building up their military might started by scrapping the barrel at the bottom. Even the US accept some French second had stuff in their independence war.

          • don’t think of SF (Green Berets) participation (although this is a welcome development for all interests at play here) as “aid” or “extending a helping hand” ala that article’s cartoon.

            Between the State Dept. and CIA (Green Berets will work for both entities), it’s merely an extension of our foreign policy, ie. there will always be something in it for us.

            Unconventional Warfare, or specifically if invited by any country, “Foreign Internal Defense”, anti-guerrilla ops, will always be welcome from a training, experience gathering perspective here, ie. if a country invites the US, rarely will it say ‘NO’.

            But the operating value added here is not just that, but also inter-operability , the sharing and coordinating is in and of itself valuable, it’s a force multiplier for the US military, especially for Special Ops folks.

            So, my point, think what’s in it for the US military first (ie. experience/force multiplier), national sec. interests, then think political interests, then all this “helping hand” stuff. But the “helping hand” stuff, all the feel good fluffy thoughts, should be last.

            • sonny says:

              @ LC, a historical aside on US Army Special Forces

              My dad in 1945 (Jan thru Sep 9), the closing of WWII in the PH, served under the guerilla forces of Russell Volckmann. His division-strong Ilocos force helped protect the Northern Luzon and Mountain Province flanks of Gen Krueger’s Lingayen Gulf invading 6th Army. His connection to the Special Forces?

              “… After the war, he remained in the U.S. Army and helped create the U.S. Army Special Forces. In addition to his other services to his country, Russell Volckmann, at that time a colonel, is considered a co-founder of the U.S. Army Special Forces (the “Green Berets”), together with Colonels Aaron Bank and Wendell Fertig. He eventually retired as a brigadier general.”


              • sonny says:

                PS: Russell Volckmann did not surrender to the Japanese on Apr 9, 1942. Instead he went underground (guerilla) like many USAFFE personnel. By 1944 he had consolidated a network of intel operatives that fed Japanese movements to southwest Pacific US command.

              • Thanks, sonny! Never heard of this guy. Seems his connection to the Green Berets came after, in Korea. But yeah, the OSS, essentially split into two, 1) CIA and 2) later on, Special Forces… eventually the CIA had to up it’s guerilla warfare, now the Green Berets are running agent networks (just recently, from “Guerilla Factory” by Tony Schwalm)—- it’s funny how both forgot 2 elements that were crucial during OSS in WWII, ah bureaucracy! check this book out:

            • chemrock says:

              One can’t blame the US if they weigh their interest in a decision to help out another country in distress. But somewhere in there is a win-win proposition. That’s only fair. Given the present situation of Phils, US extension of assistance in Marawi is probably nothing to do with what they can gain in areas you mentioned, but simply to put a foot in the door to Filipino friendship, to maintain US influence. The US certainly understands Duterte is not forever, so there are relationships to maintain, particularly with the AFP.

  24. Bill In Oz says:

    The past couple of days I have been wondering how these Maute terrorists are able to resist the Philippines army and Philippines marines for so long. It is now over three wees since it started.

    Clearly there was a lot of preparation before the actala fighting began – weapons and ammunition gathered; recruits trained; food and supplies laid in store; and these were all gathered in mosques and in tunnels under the mosques.

    none of this could have happened without many people in Marawi knowing what was going on.

    This explains also something else which has been at the back of my mind : immediately the fighting began almost the entire population of Marawi fled. Clearly they knew that it was not a small minor fight happening. They knew that it was the Bg’One”.

    So the big question is “How many of the refugee victims who have fled knew what was being planned but did not tell anybody in legitimate authority, the police or the local military or even the government ?

    • And while DOJ is exploring destabilization plots, could they determine who had fewer degrees of separation from the Maute clan, Bam Aquino or Rody Duterte.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Joe I don’t understand the significance of your remark. What do you mean ?

        • DOJ has ordered the NBI to establish cases against opposition leaders for a plot to destabilize the government, keyed to their activities prior to the current battle in Mindanao. Others point out that there is evidence of support to rebels by the Duterte clan. The NBI should investigate who has aided and abetted. Period. Not aim it at the political opposition.

          • Bill In Oz says:

            I was not aware of that order by the DOJ. And my remarks above were not concerned with that situation.

            My remarks above are directed at the the following ‘facts’ on the ground :
            1: The ‘rebellion’ in MRarwi has gone on for 3 weeks.
            2: They are Muslim Jihardi ISIS supporters who are both Filipino and from other countries.
            3 : They are well trained militarily & ideologically strong supporters of ISIS
            4 :They have been under attack by the Philippine armed forces for the past 3 weeks and have proved hard to defeat.
            5: They are well equipped militarilt with weapons RPG’s explosives etc. ect
            6 : Putting such an armed force with it’s equipment, takes a long time, especially if it is done in ‘secret’ from the authorities.
            7: Despite this a lot of local residents of Marawi must have known what was happening during this preparation phase.
            8 The fact that so many people fled Marawi so quickly indicates that a lot of people knew that a major battle was coming.
            9 If it had been a surprise or just a minor ‘fracas’ most would have stayed in their homes and businesses.
            10 But no warning was given to the government authorities or police or military.
            11 Or maybe what warnings were given by locals were downplayed and ignored by authorities in the ope of ‘quiet life” ?
            12; Duterte was aware of the significance & size of the Maute revolt from the start when he heard about it in Moscow.
            13 : He decision to declare martial law follows from this.

            I do NOT see this issue as partisan politics issue. It is in fact just the start of a major challenge to the integrity of the Philippines state. Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria are examples of what lies ahead for the Philippines if this evil is not destroyed completely at it’s birth..

            • Yes, agree, but the Department of Justice is using the battle politically and punitively for suppression of critics. So you see it correctly, but that is not the way it is being played out by the Duterte govt.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Joe, if officials from the Philippines DOJ is using this emergency to pursue a partisan vendetta, they are being stupid and incompetent. They need a kick up the arse to wake them up to ‘reality’. And I notice today that ‘benie’ at GRP is pursuing that partisan line. Dead stupid !

                Meanwhile Emmanuel Del Santos has updated his assessment of the situation here :


              • I’m confused by Santos’ claim that Aquino downplayed the presence of ISIS and Duterte has stepped up opposition. Then he refers to a quote in which Duterte’s AFP downplays the significance of ISIS in the PH. Aquino is the guy who welcomed US intelligence and training to push Abu Sayaff back to remote islands and Duterte is the guy who pushed US intelligence and training away and paid huge ransoms to Abu Sayaff, presumably used to arm up for attacks. I fear Santos continues to push his strange anti-Aquino viewpoint, and in the doing, makes Duterte look like a downright jolly patriotic and top performing guy.

              • Aquino was the guy who almost got the BBL in place to anchor peace, and Duterte is the guy who wanted MNLF’s terrorist leader to fight the Maute gang alongside AFP.

  25. Bill In Oz says:

    A news story from ABC website on Marawi. It mentions news that does not seem to be present in the Enquirer.

    And Joe I just caught up with Robredo’s comments today re Aguirre’s false news and old photos.

  26. Bill In Oz says:

    We have all been thinking about the situation in Marawi.

    But there is a wider global & regional context. The fundamental aim of IS is not just to do terrorism. It is to force the entire global population to become Muslim. And specifically ‘Sunni’ Muslim. And in that process forced conversions are not just allowed, they are encouraged.

    In fact this is the process by which Islam has expanded since started by Mohamed the 6th Century. The list of countries & regions conquered and ‘converted’ is endless.

    In South East Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei are already significantly ‘Islamicised’. ( And the non Muslim populations are under social, financial & psychological pressure to ‘Masok’ – enter Islam. The exception in insular SEA is the Philippines.

    The Philippines is 90% Christian and mostly Roman Catholic. And for the past 150 years Christians in the Philippines have sought to occupy and settle areas in the South, like Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, where Islam had already been established.

    Thus the Philippines is ideologically the obvious target of the ISIS crusading terrorists.

    • chemrock says:

      You are referring to the transmigration policies in the past where Christian settlers were moved into Mindanao. Similar to what the Han Chinese are doing in the province of Xinjiang. That ISIS is looking at Philippines is maybe due to their view Philippines is a soft target, much softer now with the retreat of the US.

      There is another war going on in many places of the world, especially Europe, which is a hidden objective of Muslims. Islamisation of the world without wars, without soldiers. It’s fought in the bedrooms. With family size of 10 each, they will take over the world in 100 years time. The only 2 places in the world where they will have difficulties are in Philippines and China. In Philippines, the Christians multiply at the same rate. In China, there are a million converts to Christianity each year.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        All true Chemrock. But birth rates among ‘Christian’ Filipinos have declined for the past decade I suspect. but not in Moro areas.

        In any event the Philippines is seen as a nation that can be ‘converted’ by force if necessary via Jihad. Thus the Jihardists believe and act.

  27. Bill In Oz says:

    The Enquirer has this major report on the help being provided by US troops to the Philippines armed forces fighting the Jihardist rebels at Marawi.

    • Off topic, Bill. Today, I spent a little time watching the Australian Broadcast System which had on the parliaments questioning session for the Prime Minister. Boy howdy and wow. What a bludgeoning, direct and personal, from both benches. Makes the US Congress look like a batch of mild mannered prissy diplomats. I do wonder about fall-out, though. The hostility that carries over to destroy any possibility of harmony and unity, and the possibility that the nation’s citizens will behave with equal hostility and venom toward other citizens who have a different idea. Rather as we see some Americans and some Filipinos empowered by their respective presidents toward thuggery and black/white opinions that brook no opposition.

      I personally think the emotionalism of debate is one of the real dismaying qualities about mankind in 2017. I think we are regressing. Rational people ought to coolly respect differences and seek to understand them with the idea that we are all well-meaning, but are operating with a different platform or set of facts.

      We’ve become an angry planet, hostile and vengeful toward our fellow man.

    • Off topic, Bill. Today, I spent a little time watching the Australian Broadcast System which had on the parliament’s questioning session for the Prime Minister. Boy howdy and wow. What a bludgeoning, direct and personal, from both benches. Makes the US Congress look like a batch of mild mannered prissy diplomats. I do wonder about fall-out, though. The hostility that carries over to destroy any possibility of harmony and unity, and the possibility that the nation’s citizens will behave with equal hostility and venom toward other citizens who have a different idea. Rather as we see some Americans and some Filipinos empowered by their respective presidents toward thuggery and black/white opinions that brook no opposition.

      I personally think the emotionalism of debate is one of the real dismaying qualities about mankind in 2017. I think we are regressing. Rational people ought to coolly respect differences and seek to understand them with the idea that we are all well-meaning, but are operating with a different platform or set of facts.

      We’ve become an angry planet, hostile and vengeful toward our fellow man.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        I have not watched or listened to a parliamentary question time for decades Joe.

        As much as I prefer the parliamentary system, it has it’s flaws. And the way that “Question time” in the House of Representatives, is played out is one of them. ( BTW the Senate is very different as there no one has majority, there are 4-5 minor parties and no one can dominate the proceedings. It’s also televised far less often.)

        But in the House of Reps. it’s all about attempting to show that the other side is a bunch of dunces. And both government & opposition play the game as hard as they can to absurd lengths. It is performance theatre especially as it is on TV and watched by some folks.Hence all the ‘argy-bargy’.

        But outside question time things can be very different. There can be reasoned debates on the floor of the House. There can be minds changed. And within the “Committees of the House” members of different parties actually talk to each other with courtesy most of the time. Members have meals together in the ‘House’s own Members Restaurant” or private restaurants.Friendships exist that cross the party lines; and sometimes even relationships develop.

        I write this having been there once upon a time and been a party member, and known members of the House and Senate.

        • Maybe they all understand it is a bit of play acting, and don’t take it at face value. I hope so because today’s session was venomous. Thanks for the further insights.

          • Bill In Oz says:

            I’ve just watched the 7.00 PM news here on the ABC. A half hour daily bulletin. Not a word or even a reference to today’s question time.

            Both government & opposition are keen to show up the faults ( real or imagined ) of the other side at Question time. Why because government is formed by who holds a majority in the House. Party discipline is crucial to maintain the majority. And it is rare for a member to cross party lines on any issue.


            • One issue was coal electrical generation. Later on the news, China’s efforts to influence policy was discussed. Much more relevant and interesting than the US having spasms about its new president.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                I think you were watching what we locally call “ABC 24”. I was watching the Adelaide/South Australian broadcast which is a bit more locally focused.

                Electricity generation is a major issue here. It used to be universally state corporation owned and operated accountable to the state parliaments and so to the people. . And it was mostly coal generated for base load with hydro and gas for topping up to meet high demand.
                In the 1990’s US influenced ‘economists ran a campaign to privatise these state based corporations on the grounds that this would reduce inefficiencies and reduce the cost to consumers. These arguments Labor & Liberal state governments have gradually accepted. Now most of the industry is privatised. A totally bizarre situation given that it is a natural monoply.

                And now Greenies are demanding the closure of coal fired baseload power stations because of their co2 emissions. Four have closed in the past 5 years across Australia In theory solar & wind will replace the coal and here has been a massive public funding of private development of them. But the sun goes down and the winds often fall away to nothing. So more expensive gas fired fired plants have to remain on ‘standby’ in case this happens. And so here in South Australia there are no coal fired power plants any more.

                This is important here as the ‘frequency’ of the solar & wind plants is not constant all the time. (The standard is 50 ???? ) So electricity from brown coal fired power plants in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria (1100 ks away from Adelaide !! ) is needed to stabilise the grid frequency anyway.

                Now that is a real stuff up as it increases power prices significantly for industry & households. Since 2004 I think power has gone up by over 200% while official inflation has been about 30%….. People here are angry. The idealistic ‘green’ policy dominated Labor government goes to an election next March. It will be thrashed and justly so. If we are lucky deep disillusionment with the conservative opposition will lead voters to support minority parties enough to prevent them dominating completely

                There is a naive unawareness of the global picture on CO2. Greens either do not know or do not care to know that roughly 130 coal fired power plants are being built or planned in Asia. And from my reading of the Enquirer 16 of them will be in the Philippines. Global atmospheric CO2 has risen for the past 200 years; it will continue rising and will rise greatly in the next 100 years. So closing down 4 coal fired plants here is meaningless.

                James Lovelock ( author of the Gaia hypothesis ) in the 1980’s pointed out the solution : nuclear power. But his deep green wisdom was over run by green fanatics.

  28. vmbernal says:

    Based on the news, from day 1 to present, it seems that AFP (marines) in Marawi war are not using the “smoke screen” to distract the line of sight of the snipers .

    Counter-attacking the sniper

    Once a sniper’s position is known or suspected, other options follow:

    Fire support: If the sniper’s general position can be determined by other means, the area can be bombarded by mortars, artillery, or close air support. Rockets, guided missiles, anti-armor/anti-fortification weapons and other direct fire options may also be used by the forces in contact, as well.

    Smoke screen: In urban settings or other environments with limited movement and fields of view, smoke can be an effective means to screen friendly movement. This can be used either to pass through and escape, or to close in on and eliminate the enemy sniper. Ordinary soldiers can still do damage through smoke by firing randomly or on intuition, but snipers lose their precision advantage and are far less likely to hit anything with their much lower possible shot volume. A determined enemy, such as an emplaced heavy machine gun, will fire randomly through smoke, so this is a dangerous tactic. It should also be noted that weapons of opportunity may also provide a smoke screen, anything from igniting a car’s gas tank, oil drum, or using fragmentation grenades to throw up debris and quickly break line of sight and concentration. Flash-bang (distraction) grenades have a wider blast radius than fragmentation grenades.

    Rush: Also known as “Close With And Destroy.” If the squad is pinned down by sniper fire and taking casualties, the order may be given to rush the sniper’s position. If the sniper is too far away for a direct rush, a “rush to cover” can also be used. The squad may take casualties, but with many moving targets and a slow-firing rifle, the losses are usually small compared to holding position and being slowly picked off.

    Pincer movement: If the sniper’s position is known but direct retaliation is not possible, a pair of squads can move through concealment (preferably cover) and drive the sniper toward the group containing the targets. This decreases the chances that the sniper will find a stealthy, quick escape route. A pincer movement attack can be combined with artillery or mortar fire, so long as this is tightly coordinated, i.e. the target area covered by bombardment does not overlap with the movement of the counter-attacking troops. Even if bombardment does not kill or wound the sniper, it may flush them from cover.

    The question with due respect to the AFP: Why it take them so long to neutralize the Maute/ISIS considering that the enemy had only occupied small area in Marawi and that the AFP have employed many air strikes. would this mean that our Marines need to be trained more in urban warfare tactics especially in the rescue of civilians?

  29. Bill In Oz says:

    The Russian used a gas years ago when Chechen terrorists seized a theater and took hostage the audience of 700 people. The gas was supposed to put everyone to sleep. It did that but some people were allergic and died. Still they avoided a massacre such as happened when Chechen terrorists seized a school.

  30. Bill In Oz says:

    The ABC is finally getting it’s act together with some commentary and program about Marawi. Here is one from the history radio program.. A bit too pro muslim I think but interesting :

    • sonny says:

      Bill, I read the transcript; the audio pgm was not working for me.

      From what I know and read of Filipino-Moro history, the presentation is informative, accurate and fair. One can use the information as good background to the Marawi situation. The boundaries to the historical data are discreet and clear. The major protagonists are well-identified together with the issues involved. I like the references to Nasserite nationalism, Afghan Islamism and other details differentiating Muslim ideologies; I need to know more of these in order to understand Islam more especially how the Moros think of themselves.

  31. Argie says:

    Yung unang pic mu na nakasakay sa truck, Marines po yan hindi Army. Napakalaking diperwnsya ng army sa marines. . Horraaahhh

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